Teenagers and Distracted Driving

Drivers in Michigan are at high risk for driving distracted, and this can lead to serious accidents. Teenagers, especially, are at fault for many types of distractions, mostly due to phone use. To cut down on accidents, there are a number of laws and programs that have been developed to help.

According to the CDC, drivers who are 19 years old and younger are responsible for the highest number of fatal crashes due to distraction. These distractions can be in the form of eating, talking with passengers, changing the radio, using the navigation system, talking on the phone or texting. For teen drivers, the highest risk behaviors are emailing and texting, which have been shown to lead to more serious issues. Studies have shown that drivers who text frequently are also at higher risk of not wearing a seatbelt, drink while driving and ride with another driver who is under the influence.

To help combat distracted driving, there are a number of federal and state laws that ban texting and talking on hand-held devices. Some of these laws are directed specifically towards new teenage drivers. Other programs, such as the graduated licensing system, have been enacted in a number of states.

The National Security Council states that graduated driver licensing systems reduce the risk of a crash by 20 to 40%. A GDL system has three different stages. The first is a permit, which only allows the teen to drive when a fully-licensed adult is in the car supervising. The second stage is a provisional license, which allows the teenager to drive unsupervised but there are restrictions regarding passengers and hours of driving. The final stage is the full, unrestricted license. The theory behind this program is it allows teen drivers to develop their driving skills and learn how to regulate their behavior, such as distractions, while on the road.